The University of Latvia (UL) Academic Centre in Torņakalns celebrates successful completion of the House of Science, thus creating the newest and most modern study and research centre in Latvia to enable consolidating the UL studies and research in exact, medical and life sciences at a single location, promoting synergies between the study and research sectors, as well as ensuring efficient use of the UL resources.
The House of Science construction commenced in the summer of 2017 and finished in December 2018, creating a modern environment with contemporary infrastructure for two UL faculties and six research institutes. The House of Science will be a home to the Faculty of Physics, Mathematics and Optometry, Faculty of Medicine, Institute of Physics, Institute of Geodesy and Geoinformatics, Institute of Cardiology and Regenerative Medicine, Institute of Atomic Physics and Spectroscopy, Institute for Mechanics of Materials and Institute of Astronomy.
Indriķis Muižnieks, UL Rector: “The University of Latvia has taken a decisive step toward its long-term goal of becoming one of the leading science universities in the Baltic region and taking its recognized place among European and global research and innovation centres. I believe that our Academic Centre will inspire young people to study, and young researchers to remain in Latvia and focus on research development in our country. Here we have created an academical and research environment unique to Latvia, which will enable collaboration of scientists and entrepreneurs to create innovative products and services that will have every chance to gain international recognition in the future.”
Valdis Dombrovskis, Vice-President of the European Commission: “The University of Latvia House of Science is an investment into the future of our country, using the opportunities provided by the European Union. The development of science and research is a priority both in Europe and Latvia, and the House of Science project is a good example of this aspiration. The University of Latvia Academic Centre in Torņakalns has been established, attracting several European Union funding sources, including European Fund for Strategic Investments. Investing in knowledge today, we invest in a modern and competitive country tomorrow.”
The newly opened House of Science contains 78 modern scientific and training laboratories that will host both existing and new high-level equipment. Contemporary working conditions will encourage the recruitment of new and capable scientists to work in local scientific institutions, as well as advance involvement of foreign researchers and experts in scientific work. The new facilities will enable forging closer cooperation with foreign scientific institutions to develop joint international research projects, including those supported by EU research and innovation programmes.
At the moment, the UL structural units actively move to the new premises to ensure the start of studies on February 4 at the new location. Work on creating and equipping the House of Science still continues. In the summer of 2019, it is planned to build the UL’s first so-called “clean room” or a laboratory with rigorously controlled environment that has a low level of environmental pollutants, serving as a facility for biological experiments. In order not to introduce pollution into the facility, the entry will be permitted only in sterile clothing, while the objects to be studied will be brought in through special lock-gates.
The House of Science is constructed according to the principles of smart home operation, ensuring high energy efficiency. Heating, ventilation, cooling and lighting systems are automated and can be programmed separately, thus saving resources. A part of the building's foundation piles are thermopiles – electronic devices that convert thermal energy into electrical energy, and they can be connected to heating and cooling systems for the use of geothermic heat. The House of Science is also equipped with the Cooling Ceiling Technology – the covering concrete plates have a built-in cooling and heating system ensuring the circulation of water needed for heating or cooling. For example, in summer, cold water will cool down the hot air that accumulates under the ceiling, creating a pleasantly cool atmosphere.
The total floor area at the House of Science exceeds 20 thousand square metres, it has the capacity to ensure study space for up to 2000 students and workplaces for 450 members of scientific and academic staff. The total cost of the building reaches EUR 36 million, of which construction costs amount to EUR 27.3 million, while equipment and installations to meet requirements of study process constitute approximately EUR 9 million.
The UL is currently working on further development of its Academic Centre. By 2022, it is planned to build and equip the third and largest building of the Academic Centre – the House of Letters, intended as a study environment for the UL representatives of social sciences and humanities. Overall, the territory of the University of Latvia Academic Centre will comprise four study and research buildings – House of Nature (life and natural sciences), House of Science (exact and medical sciences), House of Letters (social sciences and humanities), Technology Centre, as well as residence halls, academic square, modern sports infrastructure, car and bicycle parking facilities.
The first study and research building of the UL Academic Centre – House of Nature – was completed in 2015.
The construction of UL Academic Centre’s Houses of Nature and Science is among the most successful examples of the European Union Structural Fund use to benefit the education and science sector of Latvia. The European Regional Development Fund contributes the major part of the investment required for the construction and equipment of buildings, amounting up to 85% of the project funding. The University of Latvia Academic Centre is also the largest project of European Fund for Strategic Investments in Latvia, and the only project in the Baltic states, where the fund's resources are invested in university development. Loans for construction of the buildings were also granted by the European Investment Bank and the Council of Europe Development Bank. The rest of the funding came from the state budget and UL funds.
The House of Science project was designed by the architecture bureau "Sestais stils", and the main building contractor implementing this project was PS “LNK Industries Group”.
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